Notes on Camera Work

Notes on Camera Work

Blocking a scene means keeping the camera in mind in relation to everything else happening on set. The camera is your lens into the scene, but new filmmakers sometimes struggle with where or how to position the camera. You’ll develop an eye over time, but there are a few concrete tips to offer about camera work in general. As a director, your responsibility is to direct the scene and determine what happens and where the focus is. Use these tips to make the camera a true extension of yourself.


When to Steady

The film 28 Days Later is shot on a steady cam and features several sequences where the camera moves and bobs. The action of the film demands some of that, but even dialogue-based scenes feature this uneven kind of movement. This can be effective at transporting your audience into the world you’re building.

Of course, keeping the camera steady is crucial when you need to let the actors move around the set. Serious dramas tend to take the tripod-mounted approach when showing wider shots that feature more of the background, and then switch to handheld during close ups.

Block Interesting Moments

Wondering how to punctuate that dramatic scene? Try having one actor say his lines and cross in front of the other. You may also do a dramatic reveal, where a door slams shot out of frame revealing someone’s face beyond. Think about where you can give your actors moments to live within their tension and use the camera to capture those moments.


Bio: The Charles Matthau Company is a film and television production company owned and operated by Charles Matthau. The Charlie Matthau Company is slated to produce the upcoming “Mexican High” TV Series. For more information, visit the Matthau Company website.